writing

The New Apprentice

A weak sun was shining when they all trooped out to the lighthouse to stand outside the wizard’s door.  It was a windswept, blustery day, so Felicity had to keep a constant hold on the hem of her dress to keep it from flying up.  She wouldn’t have normally bothered, not for this lot, only her father had made a point to remind her about it before she left the house.

Every thirteen-year-old in the village was here, even the shady kid who no one ever saw except on holidays.  This, unfortunately, also included Jase Enderby, the bookkeeper’s son and Felicity’s sworn enemy.  He was in line two up from her.

Their inevitable squabble started the way they always do: Jase said something stupid, Felicity did her civiv duty to inform him of his stupidity, he’d shove her, she’d shove him back, and before any of them had been there five minutes, Felicity had wrangled him to the ground and refused to let him up until he admitted he was wrong.  On a normal day, this could go on for as long as an hour, but when the lighthouse door opened and the wizard appeared, Felicity hopped off Jase’s side and got back into line, smoothing her dress.

The wizard admitted the first one in line–the arrogant banker’s daughter Bethan–and closed the door behind him.  She came out two minutes later, pale and trembling.  She didn’t say a word except to her brother, Vince, telling him he could go in.  Then she left.

The line moved up.

When Jase came out clutching a bandage around his hand, Felicity gave him a look of vindictive pleasure.  Jase scowled back at her, muttered, “You’ll see,” and traipsed back to the village without answering anyone’s questions.

Finally, it was Felicity’s turn.

The wizard’s lighthouse was packed with stuff: stacks and stacks of books, shelves crammed with more books, rolls of paper, a lifetime supply of ink, and strange silver machines.  A bed was in the back, curved to lay flush to the wall.  Light from the high columns of windows caught on gold and glass instruments and figures strewn on the many tables cluttering the room.

In all the stuff, she almost missed the wizard.  He was bent over his desk in the middle of the room, working on a letter almost as if he wasn’t expecting her at all.

“Well, I’m here,” she announced.

“Yes,” the wizard said, without turning around, “would you fetch Lana for me, please?”

Felicity looked around, but didn’t see evidence of another person or of any pets.  And no one outside was named Lana.

“Who?”

He raised his quill and made a vague gesture over his right shoulder.  “The dragon on top of the board.”

There was a freestanding chalkboard amongst the book stacks to her right.  The continent and its islands were outlined in chalk.  Bright lights twinkled in various places on the map, some pulsing, other steady, others only barely there.

There was, in fact, a dragon lounging on top of it.  She picked her way through the books and looked up at the dark blue dragon the size of her fist.  It gazed down at her disinterestedly, its tail flicking gently, making soft clicking sounds against the board frame.

When she reached for it, it swiped at her with long, sharp talons, and she only just managed to pull her hand back in time.  Now she knew how Jase had gotten the bandage.  She looked over at the wizard, who was still writing steadily.  She tried again, to the same end.

She spotted a small wicker basket on the wizard’s desk.  She wound her way back through the books over to it–luckily it was empty except for a napkin–and when the wizard looked over at her with some interest, she said, “Can I borrow this?” and pulled the crust off the sandwich set off to the side.

She dropped the crust into the basket and when she held the basket up towards the dragon, it promptly dropped into it after the food.

She set the basket with the dragon happily devouring the bread on the wizard’s desk next to his elbow.

“What do the lights on the board mean?” she asked, as the wizard stared down at the dragon in his lunch basket.

He stared at her, startled.  “You can see the lights?”

Felicity thought this a fairly stupid question, and wondered if he and Jase were related.  “Yes?”

“How many are lit?”

“Twenty-six,” she said, having already counted them.

The wizard stood up suddenly and went to the door.  He opened it so fast, Patrick the baker’s boy squawked in surprise.

“Thank you, all!” the wizard called out.  Under the wizard’s arm, Patrick met her eyes, and he looked terrified to be so close to the wizard, and at the same time immensely relieved that he wouldn’t have to step into the same room with him.

“You may go home now.  I’ve found my new apprentice.”


If you’re just joining us, I’m writing a short piece every day for the month of October according to a prompt list I created for myself.  If you’d like to learn more, or join in!, here‘s the post explaining the idea, here‘s my Instagram page where you can also find the prompt list and get updates on my progress, and here‘s my past entries.

Today’s prompt was: lighthouse / ugly / wire

So I only used lighthouse from this prompt.  It alone was enough to guide me to a scene.

Speaking of, this scene feels a lot like a truncated version of an opening chapter, and I’m quite intrigued with it.  In fact, I’m very tempted to rewrite it into something more presentable.  I want to explore these elements that cropped up: like her dad reminding her to keep her dress from flying up, the dynamic between Felicity and Jase, the wizard and his lighthouse and his miniature dragon…

Review

I don’t think this scene flows very well; the transition between ideas feels jumpy and curtailed, like I didn’t finish my thought before moving onto the next.

I also think Felicity’s voice could be amped up.  I think I captured some of it, but I think she could come through even more.

I like the details that came out of this, though.  I like the set up of the kids trekking out to line up outside the wizard’s door (is it a planned, expected event? is it new? are they afraid? what’s at stake? do they know why?) and the fact that the wizard lives in a lighthouse.  I think I’ll revisit this in future.  This may be a future novel.

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